Morocco upset Spain in the World Cup’s round of 16 yesterday at the Education City Stadium in Doha, Qatar, reaching the first quarterfinal in the nation’s history with a 3-0 win in a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw.
Spain, the 2010 World Cup champion, dominated possession but was unable to break through against its disciplined opponent and failed to convert any of its three attempts against Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bono in the shootout.
The Atlas Lions are the first African team to reach the World Cup quarterfinals since Ghana in 2010.
Spain failed to score on its first three attempts in the shootout, with Pablo Sarabia hitting the post and goalkeeper Yassine Bono making a pair of saves.
With Morocco’s fourth spot-kick, Achraf Hakimi’s shot down the middle as Unai Simón dived to his right to seal Spain’s second consecutive painful exit via penalties in the round of 16.
Morocco, now the only African side in the World Cup, face the winner of late game between Switzerland and Portugal.
The Atlas Lions triumphed on the strength of its defense, which conceded 77 percent of the possession to La Roja but limited Spain’s chances. On the rare occasion Spain worked the ball forward enough to serve a cross into the box, a Moroccan defender was waiting to deflect it away.
The only meaningful opportunity of the opening 25 minutes came when Achraf Hakimi’s free kick sailed harmlessly over the bar.
However, WalidRegragui’s side were made to sweat when two chances in quick succession fell to Gavi and Dani Olmo following some slack defending, but their blushes were spared by the assistant referee’s flag.
Morocco more than held their own though, and Unai Simón was forced into a save down to his right to keep out Noussair Mazraoui’s driven strike.
Sofiane Boufal then worked his trickery down the left flank and picked out NayefAguerd, whose header went over the bar in a promising first-half performance from the Atlas Lions.
Spain continued to struggle in the final third after the break, as Olmo’s swerving set piece was comfortably pushed to safety by Bono.
In response, Enrique switched Alvaro Morata and Carlos Soler for Gavi and Marco Asensio just past the hour mark, as La Roja continued to pass the ball around with ease, but without that elusive killer touch.
Olmo had a chance to seal victory at the death, but Bono once again thwarted him, parrying away his free kick to ensure another 30 minutes of action.
SofyanAmrabat slipped WalidCheddira through on goal in a rare opening for Regragui’s side after the restart, only to see himself intercepted by AymericLaporte, while Pablo Sarabia’s shot clipped the post right at the death, and penalties beckoned. –Soccer24.com